Things to do when your safety switch starts randomly tripping

Consistent and reliable access to electricity is something that we often take for granted in the modern world. 

To protect yourself and anyone else using the electricity in your property it is important to have safety switches installed in your switchboard. 

These small devices are the last line of defence in protecting people from electric shock and should be installed in both domestic and commercial properties. 

That said, when your safety switch starts tripping and power cuts out it can be incredibly annoying and inconvenient…

So why does my safety switch keep tripping?

Your safety switch will trip and cut the power if it detects a change in the flow of electricity through the circuit. 

This happens to prevent electrical shock in any person who may be operating or near the electrical circuits or outlets in your property. 

Common causes of safety switch tripping are:

  • Overloaded power sockets or power boards
  • Appliance faults
  • Faults in home wiring
  • Water in the walls or ceiling affecting the power circuit - usually after heavy rain, a leaking pipe in a wall cavity or sometimes even a sprinkler hitting an outdoor power point. 

Can I fix/reset the safety switch myself? 

While electrical DIY is illegal in Australia, fixing/resetting the safety switch is one thing you are allowed to do and it should be relatively easy! 

Follow these steps carefully to reset/fix your safety switch:

  1. The first port of call is to try to reset the switch by flicking it back to the ON setting. In some cases the issue that caused the safety switch to trip may have been temporary so it might be easy to just flick back on. 
  2. If the safety switch will not flick back to the ON position or will not stay there, unplug all the appliances and turn off all the lights (on the affected circuit). Ensure you unplug all appliances including those that may sometimes be forgotten like the refrigerator, washing machine, dishwasher etc. 
  3. Try to reset the safety switch (now that all appliances and lights switches on the affected circuit have been switched off or disconnected). If the safety switch will not reset to the ON position at this point you will need to call a licensed electrician immediately. Do not reconnect any of the appliances and avoid touching it and all electrical systems in your property until the electrician has made them safe. 
  4. If the safety switch did successfully switch back to the ON position in the previous step, try flicking on all your switches and plugging in all appliances one by one. Usually the appliance or switch that is causing the safety switch to trip will do so again. This way you can easily identify what is causing the issue. 
  5. If there are certain power points that are potentially experiencing overload (ie. from multiple appliances and powerboards plugged into the one power point) try to spread your appliances across multiple power points or get a licensed electrician to install a new powerpoint. 
  6. Do not use a faulty appliance or switch (ie. the one that was causing the safety switch to trip) until it has been checked and fixed by a licensed electrician.    

While it is definitely worth trying to reset the safety switch yourself, safety should always come first. 

If these steps don’t work you will need to call a licensed electrician to find the root cause of the issue. 

The electrician will be able to fix this electrical issue and ensure your property once again has safe access to power. 

Should you test your safety switch?

Yes! Checking all safety switches in your properties switchboard is very important. 

Safety switches work by continuously monitoring the flow of electricity throughout your property. If they detect an irregularity in this flow of electricity (that can be indicative of surges or overloads) the safety switch will cut the power in less than a second to prevent harm. 

Testing your safety switches will help to ensure they are working properly and will engage quickly to prevent electrical shocks or other electrical hazards. 

Indeed, safety switches can save lives - but only if they work properly. 

How to test your safety switch 

Everyone in the property should be alerted before you are going to test the safety switch. The power in the property will go off so they may need to delay activities requiring power. 

  1. Go to your switchboard (this will generally be located near the front door of the property) and open it.
  2. Press the ‘T’ or ‘Test’ button on the safety switch (see the image below for reference). This will simulate an unsafe electrical situation such as a person receiving an electrical shock from a faulty appliance. 
    [insert test safety switch test button image]
  3. The switch will flick to the OFF position cutting the power to the power points or switches connected to that circuit. (If the switch does not flick to the OFF position when the test button is pressed then the safety switch is faulty.) 
  4. When the safety switches are in the OFF position check to see if any of your switches or power points still have access to electricity. Any items that still have power are not protected by safety switches and therefore you are not protected from electrical hazards. 
  5. If a safety switch is faulty when tested you will need to call a qualified electrician to come to your property and check it as soon as possible. 
  6. Repeat the test on all safety switches in your switchboard to ensure they are all in working order and your circuits are protected. 

How often should you test your safety switch?

Safety switches should be tested every six months to ensure they are operating properly to provide adequate protection. 

What to do if your safety switch keeps tripping

If your safety switch is consistently tripping it is most likely indicative of an issue in your electrical circuit or a problem with your actual safety switch. Both of which can be extremely dangerous.

In this case it is incredibly important to book a qualified electrician to check your safety switches and the power circuits in your property. 

181 Electrical is here to assist with all your electrical needs! Our qualified A-Grade electricians are trained to provide the highest quality service and great communication at a reasonable price. 

Our electricians are skilled in both domestic and commercial installations and maintenance as well as responding promptly to emergency call outs.

Book one of our friendly technicians now by calling us on 0403 734 299 or via the link below!

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